National media has been overwhelmed by Emmerdales' incredibly moving and haunting portrayal of what life for a dementia suffer is like in their 'Dementia Special' aired on Tuesday December 20th.
Actor John Middleton has been praised for his outstanding performance of Vicar, Ashley Thomas.
The special episode is a day seen through Ashley's eyes. It starts with him leaving hospital after suffering a mini stroke, in search of his mother, whom, for viewers of the show passed away when he was younger. The episode unfolds with him wandering around in his pyjamas, thinking he is dressed, seeing family as strangers, photo frames filled with blank figures and believing he was his 19-year-old self. It was heart breaking to watch his distress and confusion as the show went on.
The episode concludes with Ashley’s family around him as his wife, Laurel, gently breaks her identity to him only to have him ask “who’s Laurel?” This rang true for many viewers who have experience with the cruel disease.
Raising awareness of Dementia is very close to our hearts. Although Many of the characters were kind to Ashley, and were trying to help, some were laughing and staring, which further upsets the individual. In fact, even concern can be felt as ‘threatening’ to the individual and as shown in this episode, can lead to dangerous situations.
One of the consistent elements of the episode was the playing of the band ‘The undertones’ which is revealed as one of Ashley’s favourite bands from his youth. The music provides a brief relief from the confusion of his everyday life. It is well documented that music from a patients’ youth is highly beneficial to their mental well being.
Working regularly with dementia patients enables us to have a better understanding of how devastating the disease is for both them and their families also. We provide quality care and dementia training because we truly care for the welfare of our clients and know the difficulties of living with dementia.